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Teachers’ Union Plans Lawsuit to Stop Tax Cap

In interview, president of NYSUT, says legal challenge coming, possibly around Jan. 1.

The head of a state teachers' union said in a radio interview that the state-imposed property tax levy cap will be challenged in court.

“Educationally it’s a resounding failure, and it needs to be addressed," said Richard Iannuzzi, president of NYSUT, appearing on The Capitol Bureau show on radio station WCNY. "It needs to be addressed and it will be addressed in the courts by NYSUT at some point, probably not that far off.”

Iannuzzi said that a challenge is being worked on now but has not been filed.

“We are preparing a case and when we’re satisfied that we’ve addressed all the issues that we want to address, we will go to court.”

Responding, host Susan Arbetter asked whether the lawsuit would come before Jan. 1, 2013.

Iannuzzi replied, “[I] don’t know, but I would say that’s fairly close to where we would probably wind up.”

The issues that NYSUT would argue against involve whether the cap is democratic; Iannuzzi noted the 60-percent supermajority needed by public vote to override it. Another issue would involve whether the cap contributes to funding inequity between school districts, he said in the interview.

The cap limits the tax levy, which represents the amount of revenue that a school district, municipality, county or other special district, can raise for a given budget cycle year over year. The limit is the lesser of 2 percent or the rate of inflation, although there are exemptions for things such as some pensions costs and changes to the property tax base.

The cap, however, does not limit the tax rate, with is the amount of money paid by taxpayers per $1,000 of assessed value. The rates can fluctuate depending on changes to the assessed property value of the tax base, or in the case of multi-town entites such as school districts, because of the equalization rate formula used to apportion the costs among constituent municipalities.

The cap has caused frustration among school district and municipal officials locally, who feel that is presents a financial burden while they are not getting relief from expensive state mandates, such as pension contributions and required busing for private school students. While school districts need a supermajority of voters in a referendum, other forms of local government only need a 60-percent threshold from their elected boards to override the cap.

The cap was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a New Castle resident and Democrat, in June 2011, shortly after it passed the state legislature.

School districts and local governments are currently in their first fiscal years under the cap. Ninety-two percent of school district proposed budgets for 2012-13 that were at or under the cap, according to the New York State School Boards Association.

john slivin February 21, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Of course you do Jeff...you also think we should all thank you and all union tools for your time served(as limited as it was) you are a parasite you are a burden to society and will be until you are dead(and even then) you "worked" 20 years I use the word worked loosely as all you did was drive around aimlessly for hours on end but let's go with light work....retired on some BS liability and now do nothing but collect check.....you are not a welcomed part of our society Jeff that only exists in your own mind....you are a full blown burden and could be a case example of what is wrong with current set up......Go Away no one cares what you think Union Tool Boy
Francis T McVetty February 21, 2013 at 04:36 PM
The fact that the teachers union is looking out for the welfare of the "children"s a load of crap! They are looking out for themselves! Our country spends more than any other country in the world on education and you see what we get for that. We rank 18th in the world and even worse when it comes to math and science. The answer, from the democrats and the unions, is always more and more money. The education system needs a shakeup from TOP to bottom. The level playing field is also a straw horse. Get back to teaching the basics. You know like reading, writing and math. maybe a longer school year might be in order. Lets get our moneys worth from the teachers. I'd like a job that I only had to work 10 months out of the year and still get time off during those 10 months. Unfortunately most of us work 12 months a year and only have two or three weeks vacation, if we are lucky. I want the union to stop whining and get to work. Do what you are paid to do, educate our children!!!
Francis T McVetty February 21, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Pat, that is what they claim but in reality it is all about the union.
Billy February 21, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Nice point Francis! And don't forget the NYS ranks at the bottom of all states in acheivement. And let's not forget what NJ Gov. Chris Christie said, "We support the teachers, just not the teacher's union". If only our elected officials here in Westchester would get that into their heads instead of being funded & indebted to the teachers union. Voters should run from any candidate running on the Working Families Party (WFP) line which is the party of the public unions. Go ahead & google it & you'll see they're only looking out for themselves. In lower Westchester, that would be Amy Paulin, Steve Otis, Andrea Stewart-Cousins & George Latimer. Mark my words, none of them are going to propose any reforms that might lower costs for NYS. That would be going against the union bosses who got them elected.
Francis T McVetty February 21, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Jeff, "pro-union and pro-taxpayer" an oxymoron if here ever was!!!

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